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Parrot Conservation in India – Poaching Threatens most Native Species

Psittacula derbianaParrot conservation news is usually dominated by stories covering large, popular species, such as African Greys, Black Palm Cockatoos and Amazons.  While interest in these threatened birds is commendable, I also find it useful to focus my reading and writing on less well-known parrots and parrot habitats; for example, please see this article on Echo Parrot ConservationToday I’d like to address parrot conservation concerns in India.

India’s Parrots and Parakeets

India is home to 12 parrot species, but, overshadowed by the needs of country’s tigers, rhinos and elephants, they have a hard time competing for public attention and funds.  Adding to the problem, perhaps, is the popularity of the Indian Ring-Necked Parakeet, a hardy species that has established feral populations in such unlikely places as NYC.  The fact that all of India’s wildlife is protected by law furthers the false sense of security. Read More »

The Moluccan (Salmon-Crested) Cockatoo – Captive Care and Conservation

Moluccan CockatooIt’s not easy to stand-out among such spectacular birds as the cockatoos, but the Moluccan Cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis) does so admirably.  In size, color, trainability, and many other ways, it is in a class by itself.  This adds to the species’ allure, but there is a downside…wild populations are plummeting, and their needs, as pets, are beyond the capabilities of many owners.


At 20 inches in length, the Moluccan is the largest of the white-colored cockatoos.  Females often exceed males in size, and are also distinguished by their brown, as opposed to black, eyes.

The white body feathers, infused with pink, are often described as having a “peach-colored hue”.  Even by cockatoo standards, the head crest is magnificent, being very long and colored deep-pink to orange-red. Read More »

Echo Parakeet Conservation – World’s Rarest Parrot, Back from the Brink

Echo ParakeetThe Echo or Mauritius Parakeet (Psittacula eques) population was reduced to 10-12 individuals by the late 1970’s, and remained at similar levels into the next decade.   Thus, it had the dubious distinction of being the world’s rarest parrot.  Thanks to the efforts of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the World Parrot Trust, and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, its future is now somewhat brighter.  However, the Echo Parakeet is still one of, if not the, most endangered parrots on the planet, yet receives little of the attention granted the Kea and other better-known species.

Former Home of the Dodo

The birds of Mauritius, a small island nation in the Indian Ocean, southeast of southern Africa, have a troubled history.  The infamous and now extinct Dodo lived there, and the Pink Pigeon, Mauritius Kestrel and other endemics (species found nowhere else) are barely holding on.  Read More »

The Natural History and Captive Care of the Red-Headed Finch or Paradise Sparrow

Red-headed FinchThe Red-Headed Finch (Amadina erythrocephala) somewhat resembles its more familiar cousin, the Cutthroat Finch, but is a bit larger and, in my opinion, even more striking in appearance.  It is also a more reliable breeder than the Cutthroat and, if properly cared for, may live for over a decade.  Many keepers report that their Red-Headed Finches mimic sounds, and the songs of other birds, quite well.


In place of the Cutthroat Finch’s attractive splash of color (please see photo), the male has a bright red or crimson head, and his breast is beautifully marked with black-rimmed white spots.  Females lack the red head and are more somberly-colored in general.

The alternate common name, Paradise Sparrow, is apt – in part due to the brilliant plumage but also because this 5 ¼ inch-long bird is stoutly built, and puts one more in mind of a sparrow than a typical finch. Read More »

Conserving the Gouldian Finch – How One Man’s Efforts are Making a Difference

Gouldian FinchesThe brilliantly-colored Gouldian Finch is something of an avian anomaly.  One of the most sought-after of all cage birds, it is bred in huge numbers by aviculturists worldwide.  Wild populations, however, are in serious decline, and have been so for over 30 years.  But, in conjunction with governmental and private groups, one dedicated conservationist is helping to brighten the species’ prospects.

Taking Action

Self-made millionaire Michael Fidler was first captivated by Gouldian Finches over 40 years ago, when he chanced upon a group in a store in Manchester, England.  From that point on, he has been concerned for their future.   And while few people can afford to follow in his footsteps, his efforts illustrate the importance of doing whatever is within one’s abilities on behalf of conservation.  Be it through money, ideas, teaching or a new observation, we all have some potential to help. Read More »

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